Release Date: Sep 19, 2017
Edited by KnightAvenger
Almost a full year ago, I sat down and got to experience Muv-Luv, and, while I found Extra to be more of a traditional slice-of-life love story, Unlimited took me by surprise with a curve ball of an intro and story to follow it. Now it is time to dive back into the world I left behind with the final novel in the trilogy: Muv-Luv Alternative. Muv-Luv Alternative is an action-based, slice-of-life kinetic visual novel developed by ixtl, later published by Degica, that, while keeping the spirit of Unlimited alive and well, adds new elements that can be hit or miss.
Waking up in that same room like a nightmare, Muv-Luv Alternative tries its best to keep that same style and pacing Unlimited was able to create but deviates into its own path as the novel goes on. We, the reader, start back in the shoes of Takeru, who, after the events at the end of Unlimited, wakes up in his old bedroom with all the furnishings still intact but in his military-trained form, not the small and confused high schooler from before. Upon waking up, he realizes that he, somehow, was sent back to the start of the event when he first woke up in this world and, with a nod, immediately sets off to see if the place he used to call his school is still a military base, a second chance, in fact, to try and create a better future. However, the military is still as it was and, after some prodding, jailing and talking to Professor Kouzuki, he lands back in the unit being trained that were his former friends but is much more physically able to handle the task at hand. Thus, Takeru takes it upon himself, using the knowledge only he possesses from the previous incarnate of this timeline, to try and save Alternative V, hunt down his best friend, and figure out the importance of Alternative IV. I will end my synopsis here, as the story is a long one, ranging closer to fifty hours all together, and, while I did not get to see all of it, the part I was able to read was what you would expect of a story trying to wrap itself up.
For a final part of a trilogy, Muv-Luv Alternative is good at wrapping up plot points, but it also lacks in some areas or just has a few story issues to go with it. The first issue I found was the change of pacing between Unlimited to Muv-Luv Alternative. Where the story in Unlimited focused more around Takeru’s growth as a person and his acceptance of this alternate timeline’s history, the pacing was an odd mix between fast and slow, varying by scene. The pacing in Muv-Luv Alternative just has one speed, fast, with some slow mixed in during a few key scenes, as he has already lived through this life once before and is just trying to “fix” the future so that history doesn’t repeat itself. The next issue was character development or lack of it. Character development is one of those areas some readers will care about while others will not and, as I was reading, I felt that because Takeru was so focused on this evolvement of the world based on his past experiences, the character development he had in prior novels felt flat in comparison. As a plus, though, I want to give credit on making the story chapter based. By taking the novel and splitting it into chapters based on certain story events acting as triggers for the chapter’s end, it gave more of a perception of story dynamic and less of “where is my notebook, I need to remember this” syndrome some novels have.
Jetting off into the air at hyper speed, the presentation of Muv-Luv Alternative is that of the early anime art style with music that is more scene driven. Visual wise, Muv-Luv Alternative does not break the formula of the previous two novels with its rougher-but more detailed-art style, focusing more as a throwback to an older style of animation. The backgrounds are vibrant, inviting and, when needed, grim and dark to reinforce the moment of the story; the art does look and feel done by hand, which adds some new contrast but also adds an issue that I will discuss later in this paragraph. The characters feel nice and original, keeping to their Extra designs with different clothing to reinforce the military and war feel of the novel’s story. Unfortunately, the art, in my opinion, also holds back the novel in some form. The art is a great throwback, something I personally enjoy, but it does appear aged and even some of the effects, like the combat training exercise scenes where the characters are constantly moving, get it as well. The biggest of this is when the characters are moving left and right constantly, adding a blur effect, but, instead of being smooth where you can barely see it, it shows every line of the movement and feels more like a tacked on effect after the art was done.
Coming in with a sonic wave, the music of Muv-Luv Alternative is okay, but here it feels like the charm of the soundtrack was lost after the third use of it. Musically, I did enjoy the soundtrack for the most part, as it was atmospheric in the right ways with its bits of classical and action-inspired rifts when needed. However, when I consider it uses many of the same classical soundtracks from Extra, where it fit in well because of the slice-of-life elements the story had, it just does not bring that same effect to the table. The sound effects are on point, though, mostly gun noises and simple effects to boost the scenes, while not overtaking the soundtrack.
Overall, I found Muv-Luv Alternative to be a good ending to a three-part novel series with its story merits, solid writing, and throwback visuals but not without its faults that weaken it. The multi-faceted story, solid writing, chapter-based setup, thirty hours long plus read time, use of early style anime visuals, vibrant and in-your-face backgrounds, and the on-point sound effects all make for a novel that ends a welcoming trilogy.
- A multi-faceted story arc
- Solid writing all around
- Thirty hours plus of content
- The early style anime visuals fit well
- On-point sound effects in story
- A welcoming end to a great trilogy novel
- Pacing feels too fast overall
- Less character development than in the previous two novels
- Art style is older and does not always work
- Music is less memorable and can feel out of place
DarkLunarDude gives Muv-Luv Alternative a Drastik Measure 6.9 out of 10.0 (69)
For the price of $39.99 on Steam, I can only recommend Muv-Luv Alternative to current fans of the novels, as the backstory build up from Extra and Unlimited is vital to understanding it, or to those looking for a novel with a lot of content, as it is a one run and done type of novel.